Is the Negative View of Adoption among Mothers of Unplanned Babies ‘Unlikely to Change’?
Sunday marked the one-month anniversary of the momentous Dobbs Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, which has sparked a renewed focus on adoption in America. A recent Washington Post story reported on the small number of women with unplanned pregnancies who choose adoption and asserted that this is “unlikely to change” despite new pro-life laws. Meanwhile, a new survey of women of childbearing age is providing insight into what factors influence the decision.
The Post article extensively cites the expertise of Gretchen Sisson, a sociologist and researcher who works for the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) program at the University of California San Francisco. Notably, ANSIRH is outspokenly pro-abortion. Its website prominently displays a link to “ANSIRH Statement on the Dobbs v. Jackson Decision,” which states:
Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to eliminate federal protection for abortion care contradicts scientific evidence. Research shows that abortion is a critical part of healthcare that allows families and communities to thrive.
Sisson was not optimistic about the prospect of adoptions increasing in the post-Roe era. “What we’re going to see, I think, is many more people parenting children that they did not intend to have.” She went on to note that “adoption has always been the rarest path [women with unplanned pregnancies] take.”
According to Sisson, new state pro-life laws that will be put in place as a result of Dobbs will result in an additional 10,000 babies that will be available to adopt every year. Post writer Sydney Trent downplayed these human lives, stating, “The increase will barely make a dent in the adoption waiting lists.”
The Post article went on to note that the number of infant adoptions in the U.S. has fallen dramatically since the Roe decision in 1973. The peak was reached just three years prior, when around 89,000 thousand infants were adopted by non-relatives. The latest number reported in 2020 stood at 19,658, a 77% drop over the course of 50 years.
The article conspicuously fails to mention a reason for why this drastic drop occurred, despite studies showing strong evidence that the “estimated effect of abortion legalization on adoption rates is sizable and can account for much of the decline in adoptions…”
Even so, the fact remains that a very small percentage of women who give birth to unplanned babies choose to place them for adoption.
A recent poll conducted by George Barna and the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University (ACU) suggested that shifting worldviews since the Roe decision, especially pertaining to the church, has greatly contributed to why so few women choose adoption.
The study found that the primary sources of information that women of childbearing age are most likely to seek out about handling a pregnancy are “family (41%), medical professionals (34%), and friends/peers (25%), followed by counselors or psychologists (20%), no one (20%) and Planned Parenthood (17%). Church and religious leaders were seventh on the list at 12%.”
ACU President Len Munsil sees a promising path forward to change hearts and minds in the survey results. “One of the key insights from this research is the importance and influence of the community surrounding young women,” he observed. “As women seek out advice and counsel in the wake of the Supreme Court opinion, it’s important that medical professionals, as well as church and community leaders, are equipped to share a biblical view of the value of human life and the option of adoption. Dobbs opens so many doors for sharing the message of life with young women around us.”
Mary Szoch, the director of the Center for Family Studies at Family Research Council, also saw great opportunity amid these current cultural challenges in how adoption is viewed. “Gretchen Sisson is correct — adoption is currently the rarest path chosen by a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy,” she explained. “But — especially now in a post-Roe era — we have the opportunity to change that. Moms who choose to make an adoption plan for their child should be heralded as the heroic exemplification of sacrificial love that they are. Birth moms are incredible parents, and in making an adoption plan for their child, they place their child’s needs before their own. This is what loving parenthood is all about.”
“Our culture needs to start recognizing adoption as a decision made in love — both by the adoptive parents and the birth parents. We need to work to make the adoption process simpler and less costly, to share positive stories about people who have been adopted, and to pray about whether or not each of our families is called to adopt,” Szoch concluded.
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.